Sean Venus, who played a critical role in the development of Mamma Chia as a national brand, is leaving the company to start a new distillery. Venus has assisted with supply chain logistics and business strategy for the chia-based food and beverage company since 2010, and became the VP of Operations for Mamma Chia in October 2012.
“It has been an amazing experience, and I am incredibly thankful to be able to learn the dynamics of branding and retail sales from such an amazing and innovative company,” Venus said in an e-mail to BevNET.
Taking over for Venus is Annette Davidson, who most recently held the role of Vice President, Purchasing for Union Supply Company, which specializes in procurement for government agencies. Davidson brings a significant amount of experience in natural foods, most notably as a category manager for specialty grocer Trader Joe’s. From 1991 to 2006, Davidson headed up a variety of departments for Trader Joe’s including fresh, dairy, deli and fresh juice. According to Janie Hoffman, CEO and founder, Mamma Chia, Davidson was responsible for over three quarters of a billion dollars in annual sales at the company. Davidson also held senior level positions at natural grocer Fresh & Easy and Corozonas, a manufacturer of all-natural snack foods.
“Annette is a beautiful addition to the Mamma Chia Family and has the muscle and know-how to take Mamma Chia to the next level,” Hoffman said. “She is a perfect fit for the Mamma Chia culture and our skyrocketing growth.”
Venus, who has also held management and executive positions at Purity Organic, SunOpta Food Solutions and Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, will remain an equity shareholder in Mamma Chia and will assist in the transition, according to Hoffman.
As for his move into the burgeoning world of craft spirits, Venus is aiming to launch his new distillery sometime in early 2014. Venus Spirits will be based in Santa Cruz, Calif. and will focus on a range of distilled spirits, including whiskey, tequila, and artisan gin.
“We intend to capitalize on the growth of the category while at same time providing innovative and authentic products that will allow us to be identified as leaders within this category,” Venus said.